Educating Your Students, Part 2: Using Humor, Metaphors, and Analogies

In part 1, we discussed why it is important to educate your riders. Adding humor and wit to your explanations is an effective and fun means of educating your riders. One way of doing this is to use analogies and metaphors that have no relation to cycling, but in their comparison bring a smile to your students’ faces. People will be more likely to remember what you’ve told them if it makes them laugh.

Everyone had a class with a fun and wacky science teacher in high school, right? I did. His name was Mr. Sherman. He was quirky in a good way and made learning enjoyable. I’m not advocating that we start developing quirks or acting wacky in our indoor cycling classes, but the point is, making education fun is a great way to learn AND and a fun way to teach.

As crazy as it sounds, neuromuscular adaptation, strength training methodologies, and anatomy are not normally thought of as fun or appropriate topics during an indoor cycling class. Particularly if your playlist contains such favorites as “What Does the Fox Say” and the “Chicken Dance” (although I might be able to twist the latter to my advantage).

So to accommodate these strange fun-less people, we must make class fun in a less academic and scientific way. There are two benefits that come from this “fun” exercise. First, one must think outside the box. It doesn’t even have to be about cycling, training, or science, and it is usually better received if it is not. I have a few examples below, so you will see just how far out of the box I’m talking about.

Second, in order to create a relatable (and accurate) analogy, one must understand the topic in detail. The process of creating the “fun” will actually help you as the instructor learn and retain the knowledge and concepts better yourself.

The following four examples will hopefully spark some ideas to create some of your own wacky ways to explain something on the bike using analogies and metaphors.


  1. I love these analogies and Renee’s props ideas as well. In my experience humour and props, used with confidence as Tom suggests, work for everyone. In December a serious triathlete joined my classes on the day I was doing my Shop Till You Drop profile, complete with scratch and win tickets and flashing lights for the manager’s special. I cringed a little inside because I was concerned that the class would seem too silly for her. I should not have worried. She is now a regular, has consulted me about her training plan and last week made reference to a “manager’s special”.

  2. I love to bring in props for fun. Last month was a blinking strand of lights as a necklace representing the HR/Power zones. one given to the winner(s) with the highest avg. watts. this article got me thinking about props…..something from the old Dating Game Show or more to the present day reality viewers of The Bachelor/Bachelorette (i don’t watch). each girl/guy (muscle group) makes their entrance. Next, pull out the rubber turkey and a bagel. A great profile title that would spark interest and questions. Keeping it fun and educating all the more can be done together.
    Thanks Tom.

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